The MultiChannel Balancing Act For Publishers

Driving monetization in a multi­channel mobile world requires a new paradigm for measuring success as a publisher of content.

In concept, publishing used to be easy. While competitive, if you created strong content and developed a loyal audience, you could grow steadily with the market and curate an environment for advertisers.

But then the Internet came along, and while publishers needed an "online strategy," most core pieces of their operational concepts stayed the same. Write strong content, curate a clean environment for users and advertisers, and sell a common ad size that can easily scale. Success was measured in audience reach and revenue per thousand ads or revenue per page.

However, the world of publishing today has fundamentally changed forever. Desktop publishing and monetization still looked a lot like a magazine: static layout, wide visibility and almost intuitive navigation.

But according to comScore, mobile Web usage now outpaces desktop Web usage. So the variables for success -- and the measure of success itself -- needs to be revised.



Three platforms are driving mobile innovation around content layout and each platform is completely distinct. Facebook will soon open Instant Articles to all publishers, but every mobile device will render their format slightly differently.

Snapchat's Discover platform continues to be a success for participating publishers, and publishing brands that want to participate will need to think about a vertical video layout. And now Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) has launched, refocusing publishers on Google-­friendly mobile Web formats.

Each of these platforms behaves differently, and therefore, each should be approached with a test-and-tinker methodology to optimize content format, ad format and the interplay between the two.

In addition, while Google has doubled down on the open environment of the mobile Web, Apple still prefers the closed gardens of apps.

Apps aren't dead. As ad blocking grows and the concept of exclusive content regains ground, insofar as a methodology for recapturing lost revenue, apps become more central to a publisher’s strategy for creating that premium environment.

After content value, app success is driven by usability; something traditional publishers need to think about more and more. The issue with a native app strategy for content publishers is audience scale, as the mobile Web audience still dwarfs most publishers’ native app audience size. Thus, mobile Web is still the focus for ad-­supported monetization.

What publishers are facing is a confluence of factors that are redefining how they publish, which means publishers must also redefine how they measure success. Traditional measures like RPM or RPU remain a solid foundational KPI, but if screens differ and layouts per screen differ, then a new measure should be introduced.

I propose publishers start to use Revenue Per Screen View ­RPSV. Screen Views is already an existing metric in Google Analytics, used to measure native app audience engagement. It can be “migrated” for usage in mobile Web.

After all, the more engaged a user is with your content on mobile devices, the more screens worth of content they’ll consumer (screen views), and the more valuable that user session is for monetization purposes (revenue per screen view).

Revenue Per Screen View (RPSV) can be defined as revenue generated per layout, per content access point, per device. Smart publishers today look not just at RPM, but revenue per page, session, and even traffic source.

But smart publishers should go several steps deeper to determine which format, in which platform, on which device, drives the best value for both user and advertiser. This new measure will account for elements of UI (User Interface Design) and UX (User Experience Design), increasingly important roles in an omni­channel publishing world.

It also takes into account the performance (both to marketer and publisher) of in­-stream, out­stream and native ad placements across each format and screen size.

Measuring RPSV isn't easy.­ It's a more nuanced approach that leverages a matrix data focus. But for publishers that now need to manage monetization across platforms, screens and formats, it's an early and better methodology for measuring true success in a cross-­screen world.
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